24 Sep 2021 – A community rally was held in the Maryam Centre, part of the East London Mosque, in a cry for justice and solidarity after the shocking and brutal murder of Sabina Nessa. 

The event was attended by faith leaders, women’s groups and local politicians who delivered short speeches. Organisers for the event included the East London Mosque, The Muslim Women’s Collective, Women 100 and The East London Citizens Organisation.

Sufia Alam, Head of Programmes and the Maryam Centre, who chaired the event, said:

“This brutal murder of one of our shining stars is genuinely saddening and deeply shocking. I have three daughters, and I can’t even begin to express what I am feeling right now. Sarah Everard was one of our daughters, and so was Sabina Nessa – their lives were tragically cut short – at the hands of violence and brutality. 

“At some point, you have to stop to think that something has gone seriously wrong here – and it’s getting out of control – hundreds of women die every year at the hands of men. We have much work to do against the violence faced by women in our society. We will not stop campaigning until our mothers, sisters and daughters are safe anywhere and everywhere.

“This isn’t about women and girls being vulnerable – this about men and boys – and educating them early on about respecting and honouring women and girls, and treating them with the dignity they deserve.”

Shaykh Mohammed Mahmoud, Senior Imam of the East London Mosque, speaking at the rally, said:

“We extend our condolences to Sabina’s family and we ask Allah to grant them good patience to endure this very difficult trial. 

“Sabina’s murder is a tragedy and a disgrace. The tragedy of a budding teachers life cut short before her prime at the tender age of 28. And a disgrace that at 8.30pm in a small local park, frequented by local runners and dog walkers, she should be targeted and exposed to such senseless and cold-blooded violence. It's unacceptable that a woman cannot feel safe in her own neighbourhood.”

Dilowar Khan, Director of the East London Mosque, who also spoke at the event, said:

“The statistics are stark, with over 200 women murdered last year – we need to do something about this.

“It’s not only down to the authorities to keep our communities safe. All of us need to work together to make our communities safer. We know it’s not only women now, but many young people fear going out because of the increase in stabbings and violence.

“We’ll continue to pray for our young sister, Sabina, who was murdered. In Islam, we believe anybody that was brutally murdered in this way is martyred and their rank in Jannah is raised because this injustice was done to them.”

Shahin Miah, paternal uncle of Sabina Nessa, delivering a statement from the family, said:

“On behalf of the family of Sabina Nessa, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who have spoken out against it. Any adversity teaches us to be united, gives us the strength to fight against injustice. Sabina is our grief today, and Sabina is our courage today. 

“My niece Sabina was a kind and open-minded person. Sabina, the second of four sisters in the family, could easily get along with everyone. Always smiling and helping others. In times of struggle, she always made more sacrifices than anyone else in the family.

“Our only demand at the moment is to immediately bring the killer to justice by way of a thorough investigation into the murder, and to ensure maximum punishment for the killer. At the same time, we call on everyone to be alert and aware of the way the crime trend is increasing day by day and the way innocent people are being targeted by the cold senseless individuals.”

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, extending her condolences to Sabina’s family, said:

“My thoughts are with Sabina Nessa’s family and friends at this terrible time. Sabina’s horrific murder highlights once again the continued threat of violence faced by women in our communities. The Government must do much more to tackle violence against women and girls and ensure that everyone feels safe and protected on our streets.”

Afsana Salik, Community Organiser, Citizens UK, who has been campaigning around hate crime directed towards women, said:

“Citizens has been campaigning for eight years to make misogyny a hate crime. The day Sabina was murdered, the Government released its strategy on tackling violence against women and girls. However, this strategy is just full of recommendations which haven’t been put into action.

“We need legislation now and without delay. The need is dire right now, as women face countless threats going about in their daily lives.”

Reverend Alan Green, Chair of the Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum, said:

“On behalf of the churches here in this borough and indeed on behalf of the other faith communities here in Tower Hamlets, we offer Sabina’s family and friends our condolences and assure you of our prayers for her and for you as well. We may be of different faiths, but we stand together as human beings in the face of this terrible tragedy.

“We need to speak out and support the work against the violence of women and girls. It means that we cannot be silent about when we are aware of abuse happening in our families are in our neighbourhoods. That’s how we begin to honour Sabina’s life and how we can ensure that she can be at peace in heaven.”

Zara Mohammed, Secretary-General of the Muslim Council Britain, said in a video message played at the event:

“News of Sabina’s murder has sent shockwaves through the community. As a young Muslim woman myself, I know exactly the fears she and many of us have walking in the streets at night, but not fears that we need to have, especially in 2021.

“Sabina’s murder reminds us of the threat to all women irrespective of background, and especially to women of colour. Her murder also reminds us that enough is really enough. It’s for all of us now to shoulder that responsibility to act for meaningful change, and for all of us to use our positions of power and influence to keep women safe, empowered and confident in their abilities to go out at night and to the fullest life that they can.”

Before concluding the community rally, Ayan Said from Voicing for Voice, read out a spoken word poem in memory of Sabina, which shared the sentiments of many women grieving the loss.

The community rally ended, calling for change and justice for Sabina, with audience members sharing their feelings. Guests also signed a book of condolences with heartfelt messages and support.